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Euro ‘Brother’ skeins zoom in on records

Versions of Endemol's reality TV show bows across continent

LONDON — “Big Brother” may be looking to recast its contestants in the U.S. as viewer interest flags, but it’s setting records as it spreads across Europe.

Versions of Endemol’s reality TV show bowed in Sweden, Belgium, Switzerland and Portugal on Sunday to huge market shares.

Like Germany’s RTL2 and the U.K.’s Channel 4, all the stations airing “Brother” in these countries have relatively small average audiences, and in some cases incomplete national coverage.

Yet Sweden’s Kanal 5, which averages an 8% aud share, attracted 25% with its opening broadcast. The viewer total of 605,000 is the channel’s highest ever, almost 200,000 more than the previous record. Belgium’s Kanaal 2 pulled in its second biggest audience ever on the same day.

Building momentum

The tried-and-tested popularity of the show in other Euro territories suggests that there is room for ratings growth as contestants become better known — both by viewers and their fellow housemates.

Viewers in Holland and the U.K. have watched romances develop between contestants, and a nude body-painting episode caused an early stir for the Brits.

In Holland, where a second series is in preparation, the show peaked on net Veronica with an 80% audience share on Dec. 30, the final day of the first series, as the winner left the house.

The U.K. version, which will end Sept. 15, reached its ratings peak with the disqualification Aug. 18 of controversial contestant Nick Bateman, watched by 6.9 million viewers. The 30% market share was C4’s biggest in the 8:30 p.m. slot since 1995, when it premiered “Four Weddings and a Funeral.”

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